Use of Mobile Technology and Social Media to Prevent Obesity Among Jordanian Youth, 2014-2015 Open Access

Nalim, Fathima Ameena (2015)

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Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers) were responsible for 38M (68%) of the 56M global deaths, in 2012. Almost 28M of all NCD-related deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries including the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) and Jordan. In 2005, over 50% of deaths in Jordan were NCD-related. In 2002, the first Jordan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (JBRFSS) of prevalence of risk factors for chronic disease indicated that physical inactivity and obesity increased the burden of chronic disease. In 2004, prevalence of obesity increased by 52%. In 2007, about 36% of youth, aged 18 years and older, were overweight or obese. We were interested in understanding how participants perceived overweight and obesity among Jordanian youth, how participants perceived the use of mobile technology and social media for raising awareness of overweight and obesity among youth, and exploring some other methods to raise awareness of overweight among Jordanian youth. In 2014, 16 key-informant and nine in-depth interviews of youth, as well as five focus group discussions were conducted, in Jordan. The nine youth who were interviewed were 18-35 years old. Qualitative analysis of verbatim transcripts was conducted to identify themes and patterns by developing thick descriptions of the important issues around overweight, obesity, and lifestyle behaviors, as well as perspectives on the use of mobile technology and social media as a feasible method of disseminating health information to prevent NCDs. Physical inactivity and unhealthy diet were perceived as behaviors that influenced overweight, obesity, and good health. A shift from traditional Jordanian diet to a Western diet was taking place with heavy marketing increasing intake of cheaper fast foods delivered free of charge. Social and cultural factors, stress, and poor health education were perceived as barriers. Jordanians own at least one mobile phone. However, there was universal agreement that interventions received via Short-Message Service (SMS) would be deleted unopened. Use of social media, such as FacebookTM, although popular among Jordanians, should be one tool in a larger communication strategy to motivate and move youth to change risky behavior. Involving youth will ensure that health interventions are relevant, effective, and sustainable.

Table of Contents

Background and Introduction. 9

Research Design and Methods. 15

Research Objectives. 15

Sampling Plan. 15

Data Collection. 15

Data Analysis. 16

Results. 18

Part I: Perception of overweight among Jordanian youth. 20

A. Physical Activity. 20

B. Food and Diet. 27

C. Social and Cultural Influences. 30

D. Stress. 33

E. Genetic Disposition. 33

F. Health Education. 34

Part II: Use of mobile technology and social media for raising awareness of overweight

and obesity among Jordanian youth. 34

Part III: Other ways to raise awareness of overweight among Jordanian youth. 38

Discussion. 45

Recommendations. 48

Limitations. 50

Strengths and future directions. 51

Public health implications. 53

Conclusions. 53

References. 55

Appendix A. 58

Interview Guides. 58

Key-Informant Interview Guide. 58

Youth Interview Guide. 60

Appendix B. 62

Photographs of Jordan. 62

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